Bryan Murray on Paul MacLean's future: 'I don’t have a definite answer'

Mar 29, 1:35 PM

It's been a tough season for the Ottawa Senators. They currently sit six points out of a playoff spot and just lost 23-goal scorer Bobby Ryan to a season-ending injury.

Now it appears Paul MacLean's reign as head coach is in question after Bryan Murray declined to offer a concrete answer when asked about the 2013 Jack Adams Award winner's future.

“I don't have a definite answer to that," Murray told TSN 1200's Ian Mendes. "But Paul's got a contract going forward. He was Coach of the Year last year and I don't know what happened this year necessarily as far as performance is concerned,” 

The Senators entered the 2013-2014 campaign full of confidence after making an unexpected appearance in the playoffs in a lockout-shortened season, but they struggled from the start after only managing four wins in their first 14 games of the season.

"We thought this team was better. We thought we had enough skill here to offset a couple of little things we were missing last year – and it didn't work out," Murray said.

While it seems unlikely MacLean gets fired in the offseason, if Murray's able to make quality additions to the team through free agency and trades, the leash will be short on MacLean if they start next season with the same poor results.

Apr 10, 10:42 AM

Columnist: Senators coach Paul MacLean 'definitely on the hot seat' after disappointing season

Apr 10, 10:42 AM

There will be no playoff hockey this April in the Canadian capital, as the Ottawa Senators were mathematically eliminated from postseason contention earlier this week. It represents a significant step back for a team that played in the second round a year ago, and it'll mark just the third time since 1995-96 that the team has failed to qualify for the playoffs. 

The extent to which the Senators have underachieved this year could cost reigning Jack Adams Award winner Paul MacLean his job, according to a Ottawa Sun columnist Bruce Garrioch:

MacLean, less than a year removed from being the Jack Adams winner as the coach-of-the-year, is definitely on the hotseat for his handling of the club's talent and an inability to right the ship.

It spoke volumes when GM Bryan Murray refused to give MacLean a vote of confidence during an interview with TSN 1200 a couple of weeks ago.

The problems that plagued the Senators in a 7-4 loss Friday to the Montreal Canadiens were typical of what's gone on far too many times this season and it's a large part of MacLean's job to address issues.

Bryan Murray's comments from last week, the ones that Garrioch alluded to in his column, were cryptic - to say the least. "Paul's got a contract going forward" Senators general manager Murray told TSN 1200's Ian Mendes. "He was Coach of the Year last year and I don't know what happened this year necessarily as far as performance is concerned."

Asked if MacLean's future was behind the Senators bench, Murray cryptically added: "I don't have a definite answer to that." 

MacLean signed a three-year contract extension just last summer, back when the Senators coach's freewheeling, unorthodox, mind-game heavy style made him the toast of the hockey world. Despite his deal, however, it certainly doesn't seem as if MacLean enjoys the full confidence of Senators management.

Feature photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports/James Guillory